Amending Infields: A Scientific Approach – Part 2

WRITTEN BY: LUKE YODER

One of the many aspects of my job that I enjoy is to not only measure the results in the field by being hands on with the SFM, but also to prove it on paper with raw data to back up what we are seeing. Today, there are many success stories on the permanent modification of the infield profile using the engineered amendment, FieldSaver (FS). This has been proven not only in the field but with test results.

When evaluating a surface for the best remedy, one of the first steps is to shoot grade. DuraEdge offers a complimentary field survey to ensure a long-term solution is taken, not just a band-aid fix. Below we’ll recap a real life example of the amendment process at Myrtle Beach High School (MBHS).

The next step is to implement the T.A.C.S method.  

T.A.C.S. METHOD

Test
Obtain private lab test report of your current infield skin

Analyze
Read and interpret results with assistance of DuraEdge representative

Compare
Evaluate your soil test to where you are against where you should be

Solve
Set objectives and install materials to meet objectives

Based on Soil Science and Test Results – not Guesswork – Grant’s E.S.T. Program assesses the current state of an infield, then prescribes specific corrective measures to transform a poor infield into one with the highest performance possible.

Test:

IMBALANCED BASE SOILS ON BALL FIELDS OFTEN HAVE EITHER:

Field Type A: High Sand Content / Low SCR
Typically a field that is “beachy” when dry or“chunking out” when wet.

Field Type B: Low Sand Content / High SCR
Typically a field that is “dusty” when dry or “mucky” when wet.

Analyze/Compare:

The initial soil test came back at just over 80% sand and the SCR was .32. Based on data from the test results, FS 90 was selected to amend this field to decrease sand percentage and to increase the Silt:Clay Ratio (SCR) closer to our DuraEdge spec.

Before Pictures of Symptoms / Issues: Pain points at MBHS Baseball Field were severe migration issues due to their local material not having proper structure which created lip build up and a lot of extra work to fill gully washers prior to play. During the 5 years prior, this school brought in 25 tons each year of native material to maintain grade due to the extreme migration issues.  

Solve:

Remove Lip first: Proper grade should be set from turf to dirt from infield to outfield to ensure proper surface drainage

Following the application of FS 90 at 4 lbs / sq ft evenly across the surface and thoroughly blended into the top 3 inches, we then laser graded to ensure positive surface drainage. At that point their permanent modification was complete. The results spoke for themselves in the field, but in order to truly measure based on science we sent another sample of their new profile to the lab. Following the engineered amendment process I am always curious to see the positive changes on paper. I had always wanted to see what the data would look like if we had amended an existing infield base by tilling in Calcined Clay Conditioner (CCC) at 15% by volume. This case study that we did at MBHS provided that opportunity. We sent in an additional sample of the old infield material that was not amended with FS 90. For this sample the lab blended 15% CCC by volume prior to testing which is what has been somewhat of an industry standard recommended by other manufacturers.

Below you can see the test results before any amendment was added, after the FS 90 engineered amendment was blended, and a sample of their old infield material with CCC added at 15% by volume.  

As you can see from the data, there is a significant change in the right direction following the application of FS 90. The sand went from 83.6% to 70.2% and is now in the DuraEdge Classic Specification. The SCR increased in the right direction, inching closer to the spec of DE Classic. What would have been the outcome if this field had been amended with CCC at 15% by volume? The data on the simulated lab-made blend reports the sand at 80.2%, nowhere near the spec of DE Classic, the SCR took a turn in the wrong direction and dropped to .23, and by no surprise the gravel percentage on the No. 10 sieve substantially increased to 5.4%.  

New permanent modified infield soil structure on left / old infield material on right
From Left to Right:  FS 90 Amendment; New infield material; Old Infield Material; Old Material amended with CCC; and CCC Amendment

I used to acquire my gratification by laying out a meticulous MLB surface. Today, I find even a greater reward by being part of a true long term viable solution like what we did at MBHS. It has been 2 years since we did this project and they have not had to laser grade or bring in any additional material. No more washouts or scrambling after a rain event to get the field playable. They now enjoy an infield surface with increased performance and less maintenance.

Testimonial from Coach Tim Christie Myrtle Beach High School:

For 7 years we brought in 25 tons of local southern material every year due to severe migration issues. In the fall of 2018, we had the opportunity to amend our infield with FieldSaver 90. After going through the 2019 season we were amazed at the increased performance of our surface and how much easier it was to maintain. No more filling gully washers, quick re-entry after rain, and a much more resilient surface overall. This stuff has been amazing! The critics said we would not be able to handle the maintenance of a “Big League” material, but the FS 90 has turned our highest maintenance area into our lowest. We played 21 games in four days and on Thursday night, it was as game perfect as it had been Monday morning. We did not have the need to bring in additional material in 2019. Thank you DuraEdge for your superior product.

Tim Christy

Head Baseball Coach

MYRTLE Beach High School

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